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  1. #1

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    Ok folks. I know that Blues Progressions can be a simple as using 3 chords, and as complex as having at least two or three chord changes per measure. Do you have a favorite that you like to use?

    I am trying to pick 3 representative progressions, but I don't want to get as complex as those found in songs like Confirmation or any of a dozen Charlie Parker style variants. Once I get them chosen, I will use them for some indepth practices.

    I know that I need to use some that have good ol' diminished chords thrown in, as well as some with 2-5s. For now, I am skipping the ones with major chords and also Minor Blues Progressions (which are my absolute favorite!).

    Thanks for your comments.
    Last edited by AlsoRan; 06-11-2021 at 08:29 PM. Reason: added jazz to title

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  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlsoRan
    Ok folks. I know that Blues Progressions can be a simple as using 3 chords, and as complex as having at least two or three chord changes per measure. Do you have a favorite that you like to use?

    I am trying to pick 3 representative progressions, but I don't want to get as complex as those found in songs like Confirmation or any of a dozen Charlie Parker style variants. Once I get them chosen, I will use them for some indepth practices.

    I know that I need to use some that have good ol' diminished chords thrown in, as well as some with 2-5s. For now, I am skipping the ones with major chords and also Minor Blues Progressions (which are my absolute favorite!).

    Thanks for your comments.
    Sounds like a good plan. Have you had a chance to play through the blues progression I left in your "THOUGHTS ON IMPROVISING OVER JAZZ BLUES, ANYONE?" thread?

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln
    Sounds like a good plan. Have you had a chance to play through the blues progression I left in your "THOUGHTS ON IMPROVISING OVER JAZZ BLUES, ANYONE?" thread?
    That was a nice set of chords to play through with such nice, easy fingerings. I am figuring out how to play through it and will be eliminating some of the chords, and then I might be able to use it at my level without getting too beat up.

    There are certain chords, such as diminished, that I have never improvised over (I know people hate saying improvise over, let's say improvised "with"), so I am anxious to include a couple in etude progressions.

    Thanks for going through all the trouble there. Many of you have been so gracious.

  5. #4

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    It seems you're looking for something simple, which is all I got
    Have you been through the V augmented for half of bar one ? ("quick change") and the #4 dim for half of bar 3 (I think) ?
    Then VI7 - II - V and walk up to V at the end.
    The "walk up" is nothing fancy to play, usually, but it's great for my rhythm.

    Cheers,
    Mike

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlsoRan
    That was a nice set of chords to play through with such nice, easy fingerings. I am figuring out how to play through it and will be eliminating some of the chords, and then I might be able to use it at my level without getting too beat up.

    There are certain chords, such as diminished, that I have never improvised over (I know people hate saying improvise over, let's say improvised "with"), so I am anxious to include a couple in etude progressions.

    Thanks for going through all the trouble there. Many of you have been so gracious.
    That's great. The are lots of ways to approach lines with diminished scales. One way that usually sounds good is the Whole-Half. It is a symmetric scale (the diminished is a symmetric chord) thay you can start on any chord tone of the diminished - so it just alternates whole steps and half steps. Diminished are usually passing chords that last only a beat or two, and it only takes a note or two to suggest it, but the fingerings for diminished scales are kind of easy.
    Same HW scale can be used with some other chords (imposing a diminished line over a non-diminished chord, still sounds great). Some progressions that are modal and some Bossa Nova tunes offer places where the diminished lines work like that really well.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by mjo
    It seems you're looking for something simple, which is all I got
    Have you been through the V augmented for half of bar one ? ("quick change") and the #4 dim for half of bar 3 (I think) ?
    Then VI7 - II - V and walk up to V at the end.
    The "walk up" is nothing fancy to play, usually, but it's great for my rhythm.

    Cheers,
    Mike
    Thanks. I will include the old 1-6-2-5 in one of my progressions as part of the turnaround at the end. Great suggestion.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln
    That's great. The are lots of ways to approach lines with diminished scales. One way that usually sounds good is the Whole-Half. It is a symmetric scale (the diminished is a symmetric chord) thay you can start on any chord tone of the diminished - so it just alternates whole steps and half steps. Diminished are usually passing chords that last only a beat or two, and it only takes a note or two to suggest it, but the fingerings for diminished scales are kind of easy.
    Same HW scale can be used with some other chords (imposing a diminished line over a non-diminished chord, still sounds great). Some progressions that are modal and some Bossa Nova tunes offer places where the diminished lines work like that really well.
    Dealing with a diminished chord for half a measure, will be interesting. I will definitely be include using the whole-half scale with my noodling.

    I can see this is going to some time to figure out...But! That can be part of the fun, as long as I see progress.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlsoRan
    Dealing with a diminished chord for half a measure, will be interesting. I will definitely be include using the whole-half scale with my noodling.

    I can see this is going to some time to figure out...But! That can be part of the fun, as long as I see progress.
    This is an 8 bar blues that features a diminished chord:

    A section (played twice)

    Bb6 \ Eb7, Edim \ Dm7, G7 \ Cm7, F7

    Bb6 \ Eb7, Edim \ Bb6 \ Bb6

    B section:

    D7 \ D7 \ G7 \ G7 \ C7 \ C7 \ F7 \ F7

    A section again.

  10. #9

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    I'm attaching a PDF I made for a masterclass I did last year. It shows 7 versions of a blues in Bb. You're welcome to use this if it's of any use to you.
    The first 3 pages break down each blues into first, middle and last 4 bar sections. The last 3 pages show each blues version in its entirety.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by setemupjoe
    I'm attaching a PDF I made for a masterclass I did last year. It shows 7 versions of a blues in Bb. You're welcome to use this if it's of any use to you.
    The first 3 pages break down each blues into first, middle and last 4 bar sections. The last 3 pages show each blues version in its entirety.
    Wow. Pretty comprehensive! Thank you. I bet I am not the only one who will benefit from this.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by setemupjoe
    I'm attaching a PDF I made for a masterclass I did last year. It shows 7 versions of a blues in Bb. You're welcome to use this if it's of any use to you.
    The first 3 pages break down each blues into first, middle and last 4 bar sections. The last 3 pages show each blues version in its entirety.
    Excellent! And they can all be mixed and matched, of course.

    No excuse now :-)

  13. #12

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    This may be of help:


  14. #13

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    Great resources shared here so far.

    Another is the blues chapter in "Chord Chemistry."

  15. #14

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    Blue Monk is very straightforward and has a diminished in there.

    I don't see others recommending tunes, so maybe I misunderstood the question....

  16. #15

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    I don't know about AlsoRan but if you want something unusual, try this. It's a major blues in G but has no GM7 in it except right at the end after all the choruses are done when it resolves to a GM7. Quite fun :-)

    Abm7/Db7 - F#m7/B7 - Em7/A7 - Dm7/G7
    CM7 - Cm7/F7 - BbM7 - Bbm7/Eb7
    AbM7 - Am7/D7 - Bm7/E7 - Ebm7/Ab7 - (GM7)

    Another bit of fun is you can just about play it as a standard G blues and it'll fit. It's a mystery.


  17. #16

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    yea... again a blues is not about the progression.... it's Blue Notes. Even with Rags chord progression with all the harmonic conflicts and ... just using some blue notes and Blue note licks, it sound bluesy. ( not trying to knock your progression Rag). Jazz blues tends to get more harmonically complicated... but it's still about.... Blue notes.

    The Form...Harmonically... generally have Tonic and Subdominant sections and then a dominant turnaround to help shape the form and get back to the start. Personally Blues are about Tonic and subdominant relationships... most think or hear the I and IV thing.

    Here's an old vid... pretty straight,(vanilla) but still cool.


  18. #17

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    Make sure you solo on a different version to the backing. Playing the same version is a N00b mistake.

  19. #18

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    So AlsoRan...

    Maybe you need to figure out a different way of seeing and hearing Chord Progressions.

    1) Form is generally the starting point. The number of bars and how that space is organized.

    Don't get confused with just changing chords or adding chords and chord patterns as being different versions of Blues progressions.

    2) Blues progressions, (as well as most tunes), have harmonic Targets that are played or implied as specific locations within that FORM.

    Generally Harmonic Targets are defined by Function... those Tonic, Subdominant and Dominant labels.

    Example of 12 bar blues...

    / Tonic...../ ....../ ...../ ....../
    / SD ......./ ......./ T ..../ ....../
    / D ........./ SD ../ T ..../ D.../

    So in that Form there are Tonal targets... Functional Targets.

    Generally we think and hear as I7 ..IV7... and V7. Ex in "Bb"... chords could be.... Bb7...Eb7...and F7

    We can add changes, expand that chord progression, which is what we as jazz players do.... Those three Tonal Targets and WHERE THEY are physically located within the Form is the big picture, the Macro versions of this version of a Blues Progression.

    We can and do... make those Targets almost like tunes in themselves. Any one of those Chords, the Tonal Targets can become a Harmonic World in it's self. That 1st four bars with the Tonic as it's harmonic Reference and become a 4 bar tune in it's self. But it does need to get to the SD or IV chord... Which needs to use Harmonic rhythm or physical organization of the space, the 4 bars....... Skip the technical BS... that 4 bars need to feel like it's naturally get to the IV chord. And the same process can be applied to the rest of this Form of a Blues Progression.

    Ex. You can use bIII7 as a Sub or different chord for the "SD" IV7 chord. And the Dominant V7 chord can become Eb7... The Functional labels and organization of 12 bar Form remains the same.

    in "Bb"

    / Bb7 .../....... / ...... / ... /
    / Db7 .../ ...... / Bb7 / .... /
    / Eb7 .../ Db7../ Bb7../ Eb7./

    Generally when you expand or change Functional Chords... you also have harmonic organization which helps support the changes.
    I would probable use something like this...

    / Bb13... /............./........./ ...../
    / Db13... /............./ Bb13../ ..../
    / Eb9sus../ Db9sus / Bb13../ .../

    So this is still just a variation of the Blues Form I started with.... The Functional Targets which organize the space within that 12 bars is still the same.

    I can go on... if anything sounds interesting. This is more in the direction of learning how to comp. Which is like soloing etc...

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reg
    So AlsoRan...

    Maybe you need to figure out a different way of seeing and hearing Chord Progressions.

    1) Form is generally the starting point. The number of bars and how that space is organized.

    Don't get confused with just changing chords or adding chords and chord patterns as being different versions of Blues progressions.

    2) Blues progressions, (as well as most tunes), have harmonic Targets that are played or implied as specific locations within that FORM.

    Generally Harmonic Targets are defined by Function... those Tonic, Subdominant and Dominant labels.

    Example of 12 bar blues...

    / Tonic...../ ....../ ...../ ....../
    / SD ......./ ......./ T ..../ ....../
    / D ........./ SD ../ T ..../ D.../

    So in that Form there are Tonal targets... Functional Targets.

    Generally we think and hear as I7 ..IV7... and V7. Ex in "Bb"... chords could be.... Bb7...Eb7...and F7

    We can add changes, expand that chord progression, which is what we as jazz players do.... Those three Tonal Targets and WHERE THEY are physically located within the Form is the big picture, the Macro versions of this version of a Blues Progression.

    We can and do... make those Targets almost like tunes in themselves. Any one of those Chords, the Tonal Targets can become a Harmonic World in it's self. That 1st four bars with the Tonic as it's harmonic Reference and become a 4 bar tune in it's self. But it does need to get to the SD or IV chord... Which needs to use Harmonic rhythm or physical organization of the space, the 4 bars....... Skip the technical BS... that 4 bars need to feel like it's naturally get to the IV chord. And the same process can be applied to the rest of this Form of a Blues Progression.

    Ex. You can use bIII7 as a Sub or different chord for the "SD" IV7 chord. And the Dominant V7 chord can become Eb7... The Functional labels and organization of 12 bar Form remains the same.

    in "Bb"

    / Bb7 .../....... / ...... / ... /
    / Db7 .../ ...... / Bb7 / .... /
    / Eb7 .../ Db7../ Bb7../ Eb7./

    Generally when you expand or change Functional Chords... you also have harmonic organization which helps support the changes.
    I would probable use something like this...

    / Bb13... /............./........./ ...../
    / Db13... /............./ Bb13../ ..../
    / Eb9sus../ Db9sus / Bb13../ .../

    So this is still just a variation of the Blues Form I started with.... The Functional Targets which organize the space within that 12 bars is still the same.

    I can go on... if anything sounds interesting. This is more in the direction of learning how to comp. Which is like soloing etc...
    I understand what you are saying about the liberties that are taken with the Blues art form. It makes sense to me now why the hell I have seen no less than 30 different "Blues progressions." So I am going to strive to keep your thoughts in mind as the chords travel from measure to measure. I can see how you can say each measure can become a mini-tune, as some progressions can pack a lot of chords in as few as two bars, ha ha.

    Thanks for this frame of reference. It makes sense.

  21. #20

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    OK... so with that 12 blues form.... you can have what may seem like 30 different Blues progression... but unless the starting References... really change. The locations of the Tonic, sub dom and dom. Even as long as the basic changes don't change.... they're really all the same.

    So you might think of it as like when you solo... we as the rhythm section or what ever is covering the changes, even just the bass.... we also like to solo while your soloing. We just tend to be a support solo. We back up your improv with our improve.

    If you don't really want or like that approach.... you might not really like to play jazz. Which is no big deal, most performers are from rehearse and perform, maybe some embellishments and then just spelling changes with one of the many melodic approaches.

    And yea... so really when players, (such as myself)... tend to comp using what may seem to be way to many chords... we're just playing the changes. We expand chords with Chord Patterns. Almost like just adding more chord tones... but the chord tones are chords. Most can hear and use Tonic Dominant chord patterns.... like in a Bb blues.... vamping

    / Bb13 B13 / Bb13 F7#9 / Bb13 B13 / Bb13 E13 /
    / Eb9 E9#11/ etc.... Use Tonic to Dominant chord patterns with subs. Like I've been saying for over a decade on this forum... I tend to comp from top down. meaning I comp with a lead line... (one of three basic styles). and them create chord movement below those lines. Generally we hear the top note 1st then the bottom and finally the notes in between.
    Anyway... you can also expand changes with Subdominant movement... much more interesting and you'll begin to get out of the vanilla mode. The simple example is Minor chords, related and parallel and when you start using modal relationships....with chord patterns... you can use the II- of any V7 chord.

    It just becomes another source for Subs. sorry... I know this is all useless BS. But when you develop these skills... there is a lot of possibilities of where the music can go and still be pocket.

  22. #21

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    Joe Pass has a video about jazz-blues that I found really helpful at a very early stage. I am pretty sure it's on YouTube now.

  23. #22

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    Reg, rather than quote you, I figured I would save space and just reply. As always, thanks for weighing in with your thoughts and experience.

    I do get it when you say it is really one progression. I probably misspoke when I said I have found 30 different Jazz Blues Progressions. I should have seen I have found "progressions" with many different permutations of chord choices for a given measure.

    But believe me, "Mine eyes" have been opened, and I am seeing some of what you see. I am going to do whatever I want now as far as chord selections, keeping the form in mind as I go. And that's cool and liberating.

    Now on to program the BIAB.... It will be interesting to hear how it sounds when I stick a diminished chord in a measure, or a 2-5, and the bass still plays the basic chord for the Jazz Blues form. That is probably what happens in real life.

  24. #23

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    What would also be interesting is if we heard it too. You've had a bucketload of information, advice, and all the rest of it. I've no doubt some of it is far too complex for you, given the questions you originally asked.

    Personally, I'd be interested to see which progression you've decided to use and what you play over it.

    Before that, as you said you were used to playing blues, I'd like to hear you play over a simple 3-chord trick, the standard 12-bar chords. Then we could see what interesting new things you've incorporated into the jazzy version!

  25. #24

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    Reg, I like that Bb13 progression, how B13 is basically the IV with a blue note in the bass.

    After a year, I really feel like I'm learning something

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    What would also be interesting is if we heard it too. You've had a bucketload of information, advice, and all the rest of it. I've no doubt some of it is far too complex for you, given the questions you originally asked.

    Personally, I'd be interested to see which progression you've decided to use and what you play over it.

    Before that, as you said you were used to playing blues, I'd like to hear you play over a simple 3-chord trick, the standard 12-bar chords. Then we could see what interesting new things you've incorporated into the jazzy version!
    I will definitely let you know and share in the hopeful progress that I can now make. I need a little time to digest this info. Thanks for all of it, especially those that took the extra time.